President Biden issues Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive & other Healthcare Services
President Biden will issue an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services, building on actions that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend women’s fundamental rights. The President kick off the Vice President’s first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. At the meeting, the Cabinet will discuss their progress and the path forward to address the women’s health crisis in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SECURING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE AND OTHER HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to:
- Support Patients Traveling Out of State for Medical Care. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid for patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services. This directive is in line with the President and the Attorney General’s clear statements on the Administration’s commitment to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.
- Ensure Health Care Providers Comply with Federal Non-Discrimination Law. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to consider all appropriate actions to ensure health care providers comply with Federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay. These actions could include providing technical assistance for health care providers who may be confused or unsure of their obligations in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs; convening providers to convey information on their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance; and issuing additional guidance or taking other appropriate action in response to any complaints or reports of non-compliance with federal non-discrimination laws.
- Promote Research and Data Collection on Maternal Health Outcomes. To accurately measure the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to evaluate and improve research, data collection, and data analysis efforts at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on maternal health and other health outcomes.
INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE ACCESS
The President will sign the Executive Order at the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. After the President signs the Executive Order, Cabinet heads will report on the progress they have made in implementing the President’s July 8, 2022 Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services, as well as related actions to defend reproductive rights.
Established by Executive Order, the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access is co-chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, Jennifer Klein. The Task Force coordinates and drives efforts across the Federal government to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend reproductive rights.
Offices across the White House – including the Office of the Vice President, the Office of White House Counsel, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy –also serve on the Task Force alongside the following Federal agencies:
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Defense
- Department of Education
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Justice
- Department of Labor
- Department of the Treasury
- Department of Transportation
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Office of Management and Budget
- Office of Personnel Management
TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENTS BUILD ON ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE
Today’s announcements build on the actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to protect access to healthcare, including abortion and contraception, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
President Biden continues to call on Congress to codify the right to abortion into federal law and has said he would support changing the filibuster rules to codify Roe v. Wade into law. The White House has also released Statements of Administration Policy supporting H.R. 8296 – Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 and H.R. 8297 – Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022.
The Administration has also taken immediate action to:
- Protect Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services: The President issued an Executive Order outlining actions to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information; promote the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and coordinate the implementation of Federal efforts.
- Defend the Right to Travel: On 6/24/22, President Biden reaffirmed the Attorney General’s statement that women must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek the care they need. President Biden committed his administration to defending “that bedrock right.” Today’s actions build upon this commitment and direct HHS to explore supports for women traveling out of state to seek medical care.
- Protect Emergency Medical Care. DOJ filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin Idaho’s abortion prohibition to the extent that it makes abortion a crime even when necessary to prevent serious risks to the health of pregnant patients. The suit asserts that Idaho’s law conflicts with the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires providers to offer stabilizing treatment, including abortion services if necessary, in emergency situations, and that in those circumstances Idaho’s law is preempted. This litigation follows guidance issued by HHS affirming EMTALA’s requirements, as well as a letter from Secretary Becerra to providers making clear that federal law preempts state law restricting access to abortion in emergency situations.
- Strengthen Nondiscrimination in Healthcare. HHS announced a proposed rule to strengthen nondiscrimination in health care. The proposed rule implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and affirms protections consistent with President Biden’s executive orders on nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Issue Guidance to Retail Pharmacies. HHS issued guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies to remind them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health care services. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of a prescribed medication for a patient; and advising patients about medications and how to take them.
- Take Action Against Illegal Use and Sharing of Sensitive Data. The Federal Trade Commission committed to fully enforcing the law against illegal use and sharing of highly sensitive data, including location and health information contained in fertility and period tracking data. The FTC urged companies to consider that sensitive data is protected by numerous state and federal laws, claims that data is “anonymous” are often deceptive, and the FTC has a track record of cracking down on companies that misuse consumer data.
- Protect Patient Privacy under HIPAA. HHS issued guidance to address how the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care. The guidance helps ensure doctors and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases, are not permitted – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement. HHS also issued a how-to guide for consumers on steps they can take to make sure they’re protecting their personal data on mobile apps.
- Request Information on Data Privacy from Mobile Providers. The Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman wrote to the top 15 mobile providers requesting information about their data retention and data privacy policies and general practices, consistent with the President’s commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy.
- Launch a DOJ Reproductive Rights Task Force: The DOJ announced a Reproductive Rights Task Force, which will monitor and evaluate state and local actions that infringe on federal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care, impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care where it’s legal, impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states, ban medication abortion, or impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide legal reproductive health services.
- Convene Attorneys to Defend Reproductive Rights. The Department of Justice and the Office of White House Counsel convened more than 200 lawyers and advocates from private firms, bar associations, legal aid organizations, reproductive rights groups, and law schools across the country on Friday, July 29 for the first convening of pro-bono attorneys, as called for in the Executive Order. The convening closed with a call to action from the Second Gentleman, urging firms to commit a minimum of 500 hours to defending reproductive rights and justice.
- Provide Access to Accurate Information and Legal Resources. HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, a website on people’s right to access reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion services, other preventive health services, and health insurance coverage. DOJ also launched justice.gov/reproductive-rights, a webpage that provides a centralized online resource of the Department’s work to protect access to reproductive healthcare services.